Ocugen (OCGN -0.54%) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO 4.73%) have both stirred up stock market excitement in recent times. Inovio's gain happened a year ago when it was a front-runner in the coronavirus vaccine race. Since then, the stock has stumbled. Ocugen shares have soared nearly 400% this year after the company signed a deal to co-commercialize Bharat Biotech's near-to-market coronavirus vaccine in the U.S.

Which company makes the better investment today? Let's look to Motley Fool's stock-picking game to find out.

Motley Fool's CAPS harnesses the wisdom of crowds to find the best investments. Thousands of players predict which stocks will outperform or underperform the S&P 500 over a certain time frame. Players' ratings are based on the percentage of people they're outperforming. Stocks' ratings are based on the number of players who've picked that stock to outperform. Importantly, players with higher ratings have more influence on a stock's rating -- so CAPS gives the opinions of investors with a strong track record more weight. Let's see what CAPS is telling us about Ocugen and Inovio.

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Caps rating: 1 out of 5 stars

What investors might be noticing: Ocugen's pipeline of gene therapy for eye diseases hasn't yet entered clinical trials. So the company isn't close to commercialization. But the possibility of bringing Bharat Biotech's Covaxin to the U.S. market changes that. Covaxin is in phase 3 trials in India. And Ocugen plans to request marketing authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

What's holding Ocugen back from a better score: It's still unclear how it might gain market share, and therefore revenue. The U.S. has already bought enough vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna. Details on this point could offer Ocugen a boost.


Caps rating: 2 out of 5 stars

What investors might be noticing: The U.S. government dropped a plan to fund Inovio's phase 3 vaccine trial due to the number of vaccines available in this country. Still, the company is planning an international phase 3 trial. And it has a candidate to address all potential coronavirus strains that is ready to enter clinical trials later in the year.

What's holding Inovio back from a better score: Inovio is about 40 years old, but it hasn't yet brought a product to market. If Inovio can gain authorization even outside of the U.S. for its vaccine candidate, investors are likely to cheer.

The Foolish bottom line

One-star stocks may be more likely to deliver triple- or quadruple-digit increases. About 45% of the CAPS one-star stocks did so over the past year, while about 35% of CAPS two-star stocks posted that kind of increase. Based on that, Ocugen may have a better chance for big gains than its vaccine rival.